Schwartz J, McMillen IC. Fetal hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis on the road to parturition. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2001;28(1-2):108-112. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1681.2001.03412.x
1. Activity of the fetal hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis waxes and wanes as a function of gestational age. 2. In a number of species, including sheep, at the end of gestation there is an increase in HPA activity, as characterized by an increase in fetal plasma glucocorticoids. 3. To a certain degree, the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal all act autonomously and, therefore, may be thought of as contributing to the initiation of the signal that results in the increase in steroidogenesis before birth. 4. Because it integrates sensory information from beyond as well as within the HPA axis and likely triggers developmental changes within the pituitary, the hypothalamus may be a ‘first among equals’ in being the ultimate source of triggering information for the HPA axis.
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